For a lot of startups, it takes longer than it should to ramp new sales reps. In fact, it takes three months on average for new SDR or BDRs to ramp up and achieve full quota. But in a high-growth setting with rapid BDR turnover, three months is simply too long to wait for a BDR to be productive.
So what’s holding companies back from a faster and more efficient BDR ramping, and what can they do to speed the process up? Partly, overcomplicated onboarding confuses reps about which tools to use and how to spend their time. As we’ve said before, BDRs need to master the fundamentals of time management, tech stack usage, prospecting, and outbound engagement at the onboarding stage.
If this doesn’t happen, wasted time can be an even bigger issue as reps ramp up. With increasing freedom, some new BDRs simply get lost. So, when it’s time to introduce more sophistication into the sales process, consider building on a solid onboarding foundation with some of the steps below.
1. Layer on New Tech Methodically
When it comes to onboarding, we advocate starting simple with tools: a combination of a CRM like Salesforce, a sales engagement tool like Outreach, and basic use of LinkedIn Sales Navigator. But once your reps have a strong grasp of how to find the right accounts and contacts and reach out to them with pre-written messaging, you’ll want to introduce more tools that can boost BDR performance. Conversational sales tools, intent tools, research tools, and more advanced use of LinkedIn Sales Navigator are just some of the tools that you might want to layer on in the ramping stage.
Lane Four’s former SaaS Practice Manager, now Sr. Director of RevOps Consulting, Aidas Dirse, suggests a methodical approach, introducing one or two tools at a time, and providing deliberate instruction that extends onboarding fundamentals to more advanced research and personalization. He also recommends making sure your reps are comfortable with each new tool before the next is layered on. This will prevent anyone from getting bogged down in a process that isn’t working for them.
2. Allow More Freedom with Messaging
While we recommended being prescriptive with pre-built sequences at first, your reps will need to learn more creative approaches to personalization at the ramping stage. The research on messaging personalization is clear: it’s a critical component of successful selling. But only 20% percent of your message needs to be personalized to get the benefits.
Teach your reps exactly what level of personalization you expect, and how long they should be spending on research vs. executing outreach. At this stage, you might consider graduating your BDRs from the initial pre-built sequence in Outreach or SalesLoft into a more advanced (but still somewhat controlled) sequence that allows them to add some personalization to their messages. This will give ramping reps an opportunity to be creative, while still giving them a framework to stay on track. How BDRs perform with their new sequences should be a good indicator of whether they are ready for more freedom.
3. Check In Regularly
With the extra leeway provided by additional tools and more creative messaging, some of your new reps will start to flourish on their own, while others may struggle. Make sure you’re checking in regularly to see how each team member is doing with their new processes. This will allow you to catch on early if some reps are spinning their wheels on the wrong tasks, like fruitless research or messaging that just isn’t landing. It will also allow you to constantly iterate on your ramping process to see if the pace of your modules is effective.
If you find your BDRs struggling at any point, you can always scale back their tech stack and bring tasks back to the fundamentals of finding accounts and contacts in the ICP (we recommend using a pre-built report in Salesforce for newbies), testing value prop messaging in pre-built sequences, and doing more basic research on LinkedIn.
4. Play to the Strengths of your Reps
All of your BDRs will be different. Some will be natural on calls, others will excel at email messaging, and still others will have an aptitude for leveraging technology. As your reps start to ramp, don’t expect consistent, one-size-fits-all performance across the team.
Instead, look at performance metrics and have regular check-ins with each member of the team to identify what’s working for each person. Then you’ll be able to encourage individual reps to focus on their strengths and grow from there. At the same time, be sure to provide the resources they need to improve basic performance in other areas.
Never Lose Sight of the Fundamentals
A thoughtful and personalized ramping process that incorporates these tips can help unlock the full potential of your SDRs, while mitigating the failure of others. Whether you implement some or all of these tips, there is one golden rule to keep in mind: don’t let go of the fundamentals. Understanding your ICP and key personas, knowing where to find them, and having a strong grasp of the tools and processes for executing a mix of calls, emails, and social messages is always going to be the basis for sales rep performance.
So, when in doubt, slow down to speed up.